WASHINGTON, DC – Wood chip and wood pellet fuel makers in the U.S. will see growth opportunities as Germany shutters its nuclear power plants.

The German government authorized closure of seven nuclear power plants in May, following Japan's tsunami-induced nuclear accidents. The country will close all 17 of its its nuclear plant by 2022. To avoid reverting to fossil fuels, generators are being switched to a mix of coal and processed wood chips.

Three firms cashed in by going public this year - Gevo Inc., KiOr Inc. and Solazyme Inc. - with Renewable Energy Group and Luca Technologies planning to do so.

One firm set to gain is Enviva LP, Washington DC, which makes processed biomass fuel in the United States and Europe. Enviva announced a deal with Biomass Energy  targeting growing worldwide demand for sustainably sourced wood-pellet fuel.

The companies say they'll expand and operate Biomass Energy’s Bumpass, VA-based wood chip and pellet manufacturing facility with the goal of producing more than 350,000 metric tons of wood pellets over a three-year term. Much of the wood fuel product  will be exported to Enviva’s European utility customers.

The expansion is expected to result in new jobs for the wood pellet plant and regional forestry industries.

Enviva CEO John Keppler says Biomass Energy's  high quality, additive-free wood pellets apeal to green-sensitive customers, including strict procurement guidelines and a commitment to a local conversion process. This, he says "lowers the company’s carbon footprint." 

Enviva, which says it also plans to build a second North Carolina facility in Northampton Count, has been supplying wood chips and wood pellets to customers in the U.S. and Europe since 2007. It also operates U.S. manufacturing operations in Ahoskie, NC; Amory and Wiggins, MI; as well as a CHP-wood pellet plant in Belgium.

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